Steep (PG)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarNo StarNo StarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner25/09/2008

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins

Steep is beautifully shot and contains some jaw-dropping sequences, but it fails to deliver an engaging narrative and quickly becomes both dull and repetitive.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Mark Obenhaus, Steep traces the history of extreme skiing (or big mountain skiing), which began in 1971, when legendary skier Bill Briggs (still alive, skiing-fans!) descended the vast Grand Teton mountain in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Narrated by Peter Krause, the film includes many jaw-dropping skiing sequences and features interviews with the sport's biggest names, most notably Doug Coombs, who died in a skiing accident just days after filming.

The Good
Filmed using extensive helicopter work, the skiing sequences are genuinely spectacular, though it's all very impersonal – there are no shots with the skiers at the top of the mountain, for example, and no shots of them breathlessly arriving at the bottom either. Consequently, the film's most thrilling sequence involves its skiers being trapped in an avalanche, as they're actually miked up at the time.

The Bad
The main problem is that, aside from Coombs, whose tragic death forms the film's main strand, we don't really get to know any of the main participants, so no real narrative emerges. Instead we get a Who's Who of extreme skiing, which is especially frustrating when it brushes quickly over brash newcomer Ingrid Backstrom, especially as extreme skiing seems to be a largely male-dominated sport. You sense that Backstrom's success has put a few noses out of joint.

The other problem is that, as thrilling as it is to watch a skier descend a 70-degree mountainside at high speeds, it quickly becomes repetitive and the overall effect is like watching one of those skiing DVDs set to ambient music. Indeed, you know something's wrong when you realise you'd rather be watching the fictionalised ski-chases (there are clips from various James Bond movies) than the real thing.

Worth seeing?
Steep is often beautiful to look at but it offers very little insight into the psychology of extreme sports and quickly becomes tedious as a result.

Film Trailer

Steep (PG)
Steep has been reviewed by 2 users
image
01 Focus (15)

Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro

image
02 Selma (12A)

David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth

image
03 Far from the Madding Crowd (tbc)

Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaert...

image
04 Chappie (tbc)

Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley

image
05 A Most Violent Year (15)

Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo

Content updated: 21/10/2017 11:21

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Foxcatcher (15)

Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum star in this real life inspired story of Olympic talent, fierce competition and murder.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films